Essay on Dreams Deferred by Langston Hughes

Published: 2021-08-15
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Middlebury College
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If you ever wake up without a dream, mission, or a days purpose, you should get back to sleep. The most productive people are ones who dream during the day as opposed to those who only dream in their sleep. Dreams are what keep us going and keep us on track with what needs to be done to achieve them. At any given point, your dreams should exceed your current capacity to achieve them, and there is no such thing as dreams being too big. A wise man once said that the dream is free, but the hustle is sold separate (Katz, Phyllis A.). Whereas it is easy to dream and visualize your goal, actualizing it becomes a task; it is one of those things that are easier said than done. There are a couple of barriers that inhibit the achievement of dreams and until those barriers are eradicated; actualizing a dream becomes almost impossible (Martinez, Lisa M.). Some of these barriers include procrastination, laziness, fear of failure, improper planning, impatience, and inadequate prior research among others. Langston Hughes knew just how important dreams are and this motivated him to write the poem Dreams Deferred.

Langston Hughes is commonly known as the poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance for several reasons. The most obvious reason was that Hughes existed in the Renaissance era and his pieces revolved around the issues that were affecting Americans in the Renaissance period. Hughes was a prolific writer and poet whose ability to develop plots and enhance themes in short pieces was fascinating (Dorman, Jacob S.). Unlike many artists in the contemporary world who write for money, fame, and other personal reasons, Hughes was a born artist, and this was evident in his works. In his life as an artist, Hughes openly celebrated the spirit that was developed and shared by the African-Americans. Through his work, the picture of the living conditions of the African Americans was depicted and acted to unite the black Americans at a time when racism and discrimination of the day.

Hughes observed many residents in Harlem give up on dreams and ignore them like they never existed. Many more dreams were postponed and others outrightly deferred before his very own eyes (Gibson, Donald B., et al.). As an activist of the African American people, he was interested in motivating them to keep it together and hold through the World War II. Before the campaigns and social awareness brought about by Martin Luther King, the world was no place for the blacks. The white took it upon them to mistreat and oppress the black in nearly all sectors; economic, political, social, and religious. In the poem, Hughes wants us to believe in the reality of dreams by comparing it to concrete things in our day-to-day lives. By comparing dreams to things like raisins, rotting meat, heavy loads, and festering sores, Hughes wants his audience to take it upon themselves to actualize their dreams instead of postponing them.

Finally, Hughes wants to warn people of the dangers of failing to act upon their dreams. Thinking about a dream in a very abstract manner is not advisable because of the dangers it poses (Ramsey, Priscilla, et al.). Dreams should be considered as real as flesh and essential as food, and one false move could be fatal. Hughes believes that dreams are as delicate as a baby that crawls down on the earth and might get hurt if not watched and nurtured.

Works Cited

Dorman, Jacob S. "Dreams Defended and Deferred: The Brooklyn Schools Crisis Of 1968 and Black Powers Influence on Rabbi Meir Kahane." American Jewish History, vol 100, no. 3, 2016, pp. 411-437. Johns Hopkins University Press, doi:10.1353/ajh.2016.0041.

Gibson, Donald B. et al. "The Collected Works of Langston Hughes." African American Review, vol 37, no. 2/3, 2003, p. 462. Penn State Press (Project Muse), doi:10.2307/1512342.

Katz, Phyllis A. "Too Many Dreams Deferred." Contemporary Psychology, vol 39, no. 3, 1994, pp. 284-285. American Psychological Association (APA), doi:10.1037/033996.

Martinez, Lisa M. "Dreams Deferred." American Behavioral Scientist, vol 58, no. 14, 2014, pp. 1873-1890. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/0002764214550289.

Ramsey, Priscilla et al. "The Collected Works of Langston Hughes." The Journal of African American History, vol 88, no. 1, 2003, p. 82. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/3559052.

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